Artist/Band: Cormac Kenevey
Release date: 2018/10/18
Venue: Arthur's Blues n' Jazz Club, Thomas Street
Reviewer name: Grainne Farren
Arthur’s is sometimes called ‘the new JJ Smyth’s’. In some ways it is an improvement on the beloved JJ’s, with more comfortable seating, a better piano and clearer sound. Only the stairs are a bit of a challenge to those of us getting on in years. At any rate, it was an excellent venue for Cormac Kenevey to launch his new album.
Backed by Johnny Taylor (piano), Damian Evans (bass) and Dominic Mullan (drums), the singer opened with an evocative treatment of Paul Simon’s ‘Train In The Distance’. This set the scene for a programme full of contrasting moods and rhythms. ‘Billie’s Bounce’ was an outstanding feat of up-tempo scat-singing, while ‘I Remember Sky’ was slow and tender. ‘Carioca’, a hip-swaying Latin number, was followed by Brad Mehldau’s ‘Big Day’ with lyrics by Kenevey.
Taylor and Evans, from England and Australia respectively, are two of the immigrant musicians who have captivated Irish jazz fans in recent years. Another is the Italian guitarist Julien Colarossi. He joined the group for four tunes, including ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’ with Cormac slapping a pair of conga drums. Oliver Nelson’s ‘Stolen Moments’ was another swinger, with solos by guitar and drums as well as more scat-singing. Less familiar was a poignant ballad by Kristina Train, ‘Saturdays Are The Greatest’. This was enhanced by spare piano and the gentle sound of brushes on a cymbal. The tempo speeded up for ‘I Get a Kick Out Of You’, then the mood turned melancholy again with James Taylor’s ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight’.
Cormac was in splendid voice throughout, singing with feeling, clarity and impeccable timing, beautifully supported by the Johnny Taylor Trio.
The new album is TURNING SKIES (Electron Productions), and the release date is 28 October 2018.